Azeri Journalist: President Aliyev Ordered My Abduction
Afgan Mukhtarli, the journalist who disappeared from Tbilisi and reappeared two days later in a Baku jail, said during a court hearing on Thursday that President Aliyev ordered his May 29 kidnapping in Georgia.
Mukhtarli is accused of crossing the border illegally, carrying €10,000 in undeclared currency, and resisting border guards. He denies the accusations and claims his reporting about Aliyev’s family prompted the arrest.
At the start of his trial at the Balakan District Court near the Georgian border on December 1, the judge ruled against all other motions sought by his defense but one – to let him sit next to his lawyer.
However, on Thursday Mukhtarli was not allowed leave the courtroom iron cage, defense lawyer Elchin Sadigov told Meydan TV.
Lawyer Nemat Karimli protested against the heavy presence of police in the courtroom.
Judge Humbet Salimov refused to let a US embassy official from Baku and journalists into the courtroom. He then changed his mind about the US embassy official.
Mukhtarli said at the hearing that on May 29, three men in civillian clothes approached him while he was walking home and forced him into a car.
As they left the city, the men put a bag on Mukhtarli’s head and removed it after a while when the car stopped.
“I thought they would kill me. I said to them: 'Please kill me with a bullet, not with a knife.' They said do not worry, we will not do anything. Then they put a sack back on my head,” Mukhtarli told the court.
"Then they changed the car. From the Azerbaijani music they were playing, I realized that I was in Azerbaijan. After awhile, they stopped and pulled the bag off my head. I was in a room and I understood they had brought me to a military unit. Then they took me to Baku," he said.
"I was arrested for investigating the family of the president,” Mukhtarli said, according to Maydan TV. “The order to arrest me came from Ilham Aliyev personally."
After Mukhtarli's testimony, the judge called Azerbaijan border employee Gufar Mammadov who testified that about 10:40 pm that day, he saw Mukhtarli crossing the border.
Mammadov said he tried to stop him, but Mukhtarli kicked him and he fell down and felt very dizzy. He said he went to a hospital, and found out there that Mukhtarli was arrested.
Mukhtarli’s lawyers asked if the registration book at the hospital could be checked, but the judge denied the motion.
The case will continue on December 28.